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Archive for the 'Howard’s Writing' Category

A Primer (of sorts) for Howard Days

Posted by indy on 2nd April 2014

The theme of Howard Days this year is Howard History, which relates to how much REH enjoyed re-writing history in the “guise of fiction”. The panels at HD this year will reflect that, and shown above is a new publication from the REH Foundation Press that could almost act as a primer for those attending Howard Days this year.

The SPEARS OF CLONTARF Typescript: Early Draft is now available through the REH Foundation’s website and will show you the way Bob Howard did indeed re-write historical events. For a fascinating facsimile look at an original REH typescript plus other goodies in a spiffy package, here’s the info:

To help celebrate the 1,000-year anniversary of the historic Battle of Clontarf—and Robert E. Howard’s interest in it—the REH Foundation is offering a facsimile version of an early draft of “Spears of Clontarf.” Also included is Howard’s letter to publisher Harry Bates and an introduction by Rusty Burke. Printed and shipped from Lulu printing, the paperback book is 8.5 X 11, perfect bound, with 36 pages. Cover art by John Watkiss.

Ordering information:

U.S. and Canadian residents pay $20 (REHF members $18), which includes postage.
Non-US residents pay $27 (REHF members $24), which includes postage.
Lulu shipping does not offer insurance, but if you would like tracking information on your order, U.S. and Canadian orders add $5; all others add $10.
To order, pay directly via PayPal at their website, Send the appropriate amount to Be sure to include a note explaining your order. To order via check (personal or cashier’s) or money order send to: The REH Foundation Press, PO Box 251242, Plano, TX 75025. ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE IN US DOLLARS. Be sure that all the necessary shipping information is included and accurate. NO FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS. Books will not be shipped prior to checks clearing the bank. If you have any questions or comments regarding pricing or shipping, please contact us at

Posted in History, Howard's Writing, REH Days, REH Foundation |

Happy Birthday, Two-Gun Bob Howard

Posted by indy on 21st January 2012

Ok, so I’m jumping the gun by a day – January 22nd is the anniversary of the 106th birthday of Robert E. Howard!

This way, you can blaze your pistolas and brandish those Bowies all night long in celebration of the reason why you’re looking at this website (among other things)! Make sure you raise the libation of your choice in Ol’ Two-Gun’s general direction and honor his memory and legacy by reading some of his words. Prose or poetry will suffice. Satisfaction will ensue on both accounts!

Raise your glass to Robert E. Howard, King of the Adventure Writers! Happy birthday, Bob!

Posted in Howard's Writing, REH Celebration, REH Poetry |

Southwestern Discomfit: An Analysis of Gary Romeo’s Controversial Article on Robert E. Howard and Racism

Posted by Damon Sasser on 20th December 2011

by Mark Finn

Author’s Note: I am indebted to fellow scholars Jess Nevins, Rob Roehm, and Barbara Barrett for their comments and also in the sharing of their research with me in the rewriting of this paper. MF


REHupa #173 was a watershed mailing, way back in February 2002, for a number of reasons. Significantly, it was the mailing that featured Gary Romeo’s article, “Southern Discomfort.” As I read the article, I immediately noticed that Gary, in constructing his argument, was so interested in trawling the bottom that he willfully overlooked so much better stuff closer to the surface. It made me angry, and it made me instantly defensive. What I wanted to do was first ask Gary: what was your point in writing the article? Who is the target audience for it? And then I wanted to take it apart, piece by piece in my next mailing.

But I didn’t. I was new, and I didn’t want to rock the boat, or make any enemies right away. So I held my tongue. Besides, I wondered, I had no idea what my fellow REHupans thought about any of this. Maybe they agreed with Gary.

As it turned out, they did not. In the subsequent mailings, several of the older and more experienced REHupa members took Gary to task, and took a number of calculated swings at his essay, his methodology, and even his intent. I felt a lot better about my involvement in REHupa, but I regretted never having a chance to tee off on the topic.

When the REHupa website started up, it was determined that more recent, more approachable articles could also be listed on the site, if any member so wanted. Gary was one of the few people who stepped up to the plate and actually handed out articles to post. Along with his other Pro-de Camp essays was “Southern Discomfort.” I watched it go up, go live, and bit my tongue. After all, I thought, who was I to say that Gary could list all the rest of his articles, except that one? That’s when I got the idea of first doing a counterpoint article, just to balance out Gary’s essay, especially now that it was devoid of its context within the REHupa mailings and commentary structure. But at the time, I was working on what would become Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, and so, I thought, I had bigger fish to fry.

Now it’s 2011. I’ve been a member in REHupa for nearly ten years now. And it’s high time I took a whacking stick to “Southern Discomfort” publicly. It has needed it for a long time, particularly since it’s one of the most popular things accessed on the REHupa website. The number of links to it from external blogs, websites, and citations used to indicate that yes, Robert E. Howard was indeed a racist, because look, right here, this guy says so on the experts’ website, are too numerous to count. That’s the problem with Internet research: it’s grab and go, and no effort is made to fact-check it.

Well, you may consider this the official fact-check. This article assumes that someone has already read “Southern Discomfort” and want to know more about whether or not Robert E. Howard was a racist or not. If you would like the background to “Southern Discomfort,” you can go here [1] and read all about it. You can also read the initial reactions to Gary’s piece here.[2]

 Deconstructing “Southern Discomfort”

The single biggest problem with Gary’s article is that it’s unfocused and attempts to cover so much ground that his argument is spread rather thin. He uses letter quotes, biographical sources (both recounted private conversations and reminiscences), and quotes from Howard’s fiction to say that Howard was a racist, and then goes into a lengthy comparison of one of Howard’s horror stories—the most racially charged story Howard ever wrote—as if this was the sort of thing that Howard wrote all of the time. Moreover, he compares Howard’s short story, which first appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales (and was written with that audience in mind), with the fourth novel of a man known for his sympathetic views towards African-Americans in the forties and fifties.

It’s a set-up, from start to finish. Gary made no attempt to level the playing field by comparing Howard to other pulp authors. In his haste to make his argument that Howard was a racist, he ignored or downplayed all of the instances where Howard cast ethnic characters in a favorable or sympathetic light. The amount of material that Gary never talked about in his essay is astonishing. As a result, his argument is too narrowly framed to be of any real use to anyone, by virtue of his myriad of omissions.

Comparing Erskine Caldwell to Robert E. Howard as any kind of racial barometer is a ridiculously unfair juxtaposition. Gary says the comparison is apt, but he’s just wrong. Yes, they were both writers, and lived in the south (or southwest), but there the similarities end. Wayne Mixon, of Augusta State University, said about Caldwell’s writing, “Caldwell’s focus on the issues of class and race was more intense than that of any other white southern writer of his generation.” Those things were only of tangential and historical interest to Howard, thematically speaking. Caldwell made those the central focus in his work (and was pilloried by his community for decades because of it). Howard focused more on the elemental conflict between two warring factions, and most frequently members of different ethnic groups or “races.” Caldwell wrote novels and stories for high end magazines. Howard wrote mostly short stories for the pulps, and in a variety of genres. Excepting Howard’s own singular idea of “realism” in his fiction, he is known as the Father of Sword and Sorcery as we currently define it. There’s no real common ground between the two authors. By setting up criteria that inherently favors Caldwell, and not countering the argument with any positive race portrayals by Howard, Gary’s ringer automatically wins.

Gary begins his essay with a simplified explanation of the Hyborian Age and Conan’s world. This is followed by a couple of examples of racially-charged language, cited from an L. Sprague de Camp article on how he personally chose to edit the Conan stories. Finally, Gary begrudgingly states that the stereotyping language utilized in the Conan stories could be dismissed as standard conventions of the pulps and pulp writers in general. I would add that such stereotyping was, in fact, in wide practice throughout all of popular culture at this time—radio, the movies, magazines, newspapers, the theater…and it was universal, particularly for comedians and humor writers. When you consider that roughly one third of Howard’s professional work could be categorized as humorous, that fact is crucial. Gary then states: “But Howard has grown popular, and with increased popularity, comes increased scrutiny.” On this point, I do agree with Gary completely, and we have certainly seen increased scrutiny in Howard’s work over this past decade.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard's Writing, Influences, L. Sprague de Camp, Popular Culture, Pulps, Weird Tales |

Southwestern Discomfit

Posted by indy on 25th November 2011

There is a new entry in the CRITICISM section here: Mark Finn does a lengthy review, analysis and rebuttal of Gary Romeo’s Southern Discomfort essay. You’ll find it under Mark’s name on the page.

Posted in Howard's Writing, Reviews |

Robert E. Howard and The Outline of History by H. G. Wells

Posted by Jeff Shanks on 10th October 2011

A few months ago on the REHupa email list I brought up a question about The Outline of History by H.G. Wells and its presence in Howard’s library. For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Outline of History was a massive work by Wells that was essentially a macro-history of the world, from the formation of the earth to modern times. It was first published in a series of twenty-four soft-cover booklets in 1919, then in book form as a two-volume set in 1920. The Outline of History went through several significant revisions throughout Wells’s lifetime—particularly within the first few years of its publication—so for anyone attempting to look at the influence of this work on Howard’s fiction, it becomes very important to determine exactly which edition Howard had in his library.

Steve Eng’s list of Howard’s library in The Dark Barbarian records a four-volume set of The Outline of History with four individual accession numbers for the Howard Payne University library. As the set was no longer in the HPU holdings, no publication information was given to indicate which edition Howard owned other than to note that the four-volume version exists in numerous printings. When compiling the online version of the “Robert E. Howard Bookshelf,” Rusty Burke followed his standard practice of listing the earliest American edition for books no longer in the HPU holdings. For The Outline of History this is the 1920 two-volume 2nd edition published by Macmillan (the 1st edition being the 1919 serialized version). A 3rd revised edition was also published by Macmillan in 1921 in both single volume and two-volume versions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biography, History, Howard's Writing, Influences |

REH Word of the Week: caballero

Posted by Jeff Shanks on 5th September 2011


1. a Spanish gentleman; a cavalier
2. a man who is skilled in riding and managing horses; a horseman.

[from Spanish: gentleman, horseman, from Late Latin caballārius rider, horse groom, from caballus horse]


Then Steve yelped in exultation as his pick rang on a bit of metal. He snatched it up and held it close to his eyes, straining in the waning, light. It was caked and corroded with rust, worn almost paper-thin, but he knew it for what it was–a spur-rowel, unmistakably Spanish with its long cruel points. And he halted, completely bewildered. No Spaniard ever reared this mound, with its undeniable marks of aboriginal workmanship. Yet how came that relic of Spanish caballeros hidden deep in the packed soil?

[From “The Horror from the Mound,” originally published in Weird Tales May 1932; to read the complete story see The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (Del Rey 2008), pp. 185-199.]

Posted in History, Howard's Writing, Weird Tales, Word of the Week |

I Tried Not to Weep in the Darkness

Posted by indy on 19th August 2011

I went and watched the new Conan the Barbarian movie today. It wasn’t nearly as good as I had hoped it would be. In truth, it’s not very good at all.

But I’m trying to focus and remain positive that this latest entry into the cinematic furthering of the characters of Robert E. Howard will, indeed, generate positive things for our boy Bob. The fact that at least THIS time that there’s a new Conan movie in 3,500 theaters, you can go into a bookstore or online  and buy a Robert E. Howard book filled with his stories of Conan. That’s gotta be good for something!

Now, I’m not going to trash this movie, because I want it to be good for Robert E. Howard. And I think it ultimately will be. And I have to leave it there before my head explodes. Props to my lovely bride Cheryl for allowing me to rant over dinner.

Enough is said when I tell you the best part of going to see this movie today was that the kid who sold me the ticket automatically gave me the Senior Discount.

Indy out.


Posted in Howard's Writing, Movies |

Add Some Spice to Your Life

Posted by indy on 14th August 2011

Rob Roehm, the Hardest Working Man in Howard Fandom, has announced that pre-orders are now being taken for the newest volume from the REH Foundation press, SPICY ADVENTURES. This is the much anticipated collection of REH’s more titillating (heh) writings and features a Yowsa! cover by Jim & Ruth Keegan.

Click your way on over to for all the pertinent information and pick yourselves up one of these great additions to your REH Press collection.

Here’s the table of contents:

Introduction by Patrice Louinet

The Girl on the Hell Ship (aka “She-Devil”)
Ship in Mutiny
Desert Blood
The Purple Heart of Erlik
The Dragon of Kao Tsu
Murderer’s Grog
Guns of Khartum
Daughters of Feud


Untitled Synopsis (“John Gorman . . .”)
The Girl on the Hell Ship—draft
Untitled Synopsis (Ship in Mutiny)
Ship in Mutiny—draft
List of Characters (Desert Blood)
Untitled Synopsis (The Purple Heart of Erlik)
Untitled Synopsis (Daughters of Feud)

Posted in Howard's Writing, news, Pulps, REH Foundation |

Dreams in the Fire

Posted by indy on 16th May 2011

One of the (many) cool things about Howard Days is that there are usually several Howard-related surprises that HD attendees get the first look at. This year is no different with nifty stuff showing up that if I told you about it it wouldn’t be a surprise now, would it? But I will tease you by saying if one of the surprises happens, it will blow your mind! Ask me when you see me in Cross Plains…

OK, back on topic. One item that won’t be a surprise at Howard Days but is nonetheless really very nifty is DREAMS IN THE FIRE, an anthology of writings from past and present members of REHupa, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association.

This is a project put together by Mark Finn and Chris Gruber, two of the manliest of men in or out of Howard Fandom, with a magnificent cover by Jim & Ruth Keegan. Behind the cover you will find :

  • Introduction by Rusty Burke
  • “A Gathering of Ravens” by Charles Gramlich
  • “The Rhymester of Ulm” by James Reasoner
  • “The Word” by Rob Roehm
  • “This Too Will Go Its Way” by Barbara Barrett
  • “CSI: Kimmeria” by Robert Weinberg
  • “Bloody Isle of the Kiyah-rahi” by Christopher Fulbright
  • “Son of Song” by Frank Coffman
  • “Avatar” by Jimmy Cheung
  • “Belit’s Refrain” by Barbara Barrett
  • “Now With Serpents He Wars” by Patrick R. Berger
  • “Best to Let it Lie” by Danny Street
  • “Two Dragons Blazing: A Tale of the Barbarian Kabar of El Hazzar” by Angeline Hawkes
  • “The Nights’ Last Battle” by Amy Kerr
  • “Sailor Tom Sharkey and the Phantom of the Gentlemen Farmer’s Commune” by Mark Finn
  • “I Am a Martian Galley Slave!” by David A. Hardy
  • “A Spirit on the Wind” by Frank Coffman
  • “Dead River Revenge” by Chris Gruber
  • “The Moon” by Barbara Barrett
  • “No Other Gods” by Gary Romeo
  • “A Meeting in the Bush” by Morgan Holmes
  • “Blades of Hell” by Don Herron
  • Afterword by Mark Finn

Y’know what? I don’t need to say anything else. This tome is available via Lulu:
and will debut at Howard Days on June 10th.

Indy sez: check it out!

Mark Adds:
In addition to helping Project Pride maintain the Robert E. Howard House, Dreams in the Fire makes a great autograph book for those of you wanting unique pieces of Howardian Memorabilia. Most of the people in the book are regular or semi-regular attendees to Howard Days and will be in Cross Plains this year to sign and date your copy. You can catch a lot of REHupans with this book!

Posted in Cross Plains, Howard's Writing, Influences, REH Days |

The Scholarship Train Keeps Rollin’…

Posted by indy on 19th February 2011

Thanks to our pals Drs. Justin Everett and Dierdre Pettipiece, this spring brings us a new, expanded stop at the Robert E. Howard Scholarship Station. A nice note from Dr. J tells us this:

The schedule has now been set for the PCA in San Antonio and Deirdre and I are pleased to announce two sessions focusing on the work of REH.

Last year I created two new area clusters for Pulp Studies for the PCA at the national and SW/TX conferences respectively.  Deirdre serves as co-chair for the Pulp Studies area for the national conference.  We received many submissions in our inaugural year and scheduled six sessions.  We are very pleased with this turnout, but are even more pleased to have 1/3 of these sessions focus on the work of America’s greatest pulp writer.

There will also be an informal get-together we have titled “Pulpfeast” at the conference.  If anyone is interested, we will meet at the concierge desk at the San Antonio Marriot Riverwalk at 5:00 on Friday, April 22 and take a stroll down the Riverwalk to a local restaurant for dinner, drinks and conversation.

Deirdre and I will also be editing a collection of scholarly essays on Pulp Studies, and you can rest assured that REH will be well-represented in that volume.

Here is a description of the sessions on REH that will be presented in San Antonio:

The Literary Legacy of Robert E. Howard

Spear and Fang: Finding Jack London in Howard’s Early Pulp

Deirdre Pettipiece, West Chester University

Creating an Age Undreamed Of: Robert E. Howard and the Works of Lewis Spence and W. Scott Elliot

Jeffery Shanks, Independent scholar

Robert E. Howard’s “El Borak” and the Influence of T.E. Lawrence’s Revolt in the Desert

Justin Everett, University of the Sciences

The Masculine Archetype in the Pulp Fiction of Robert E. Howard

A Laugh in the Darkness: Robert E. Howard as Southwestern Humorist

Mark Finn, Independent scholar

Hungary and Hungarians in the Works of Robert E. Howard

Daniel Nyikos, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Texas Fists in Foreign Ports: The Constructed American Male in Robert E. Howard’s “Sailor Steve Costigan” Stories.

Jonathan Helland, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

The PCA/ACA Conference happens in San Antonio, Texas April 20-23. It’s only fair that Ol’ Two-Gun Bob Howard is so well represented in his home state. Hopefully we can get a report (and more) from Justin and Dierdre at Howard Days in June. We all owe them big time for stoking the fires of Robert E. Howard scholarship and keeping that train on the tracks! Muchas gracias!

Posted in Howard's Writing, news, Popular Culture |